Is a ban on plastic straws unfair to the disabled?
Anti-plastic legislation, including bans on single-use plastic bags typically used for grocery shopping and plastic drinking straws, are being enacted across the country and beyond. Many supporters feel such legislation with respect to banning plastic straws is a no-brainer or a win-win. Merchants save money on straws, environmental waste in the oceans and landfills is reduced, and sea turtles are saved from death by plastic ingestion.
But there is a cost and it comes at the hands of the disabled community.
The government’s definition of disabled
Disability attorneys of Arizona help those who are disabled through illness, injury, or accident to secure the government benefits to which they are entitled.
Qualifying for disability benefits requires meeting the government’s definition of “disabled”. There is an extensive list of recognized physical and mental impairments, and sufferers of some of these conditions require flexible drinking straws for nourishment. For that reason, disability advocates oppose a flat-out ban.
Laws differ not only from state to state but from city to city. Some of these laws ban plastic straws entirely, but most carve-out some form of exception for disabled people. Paper straws or straws made from other biodegradable materials, or reusable metal straws, may not be suitable for disabled people who need the flexibility and strength of a lightweight plastic bendable straw.
In some places, patrons are required to ask for a plastic straw rather than being given one with their orders automatically. This approach requires patrons to pause and really consider whether they need a straw or not, which has resulted in a large reduction of the number of straws used according to restaurant and bar owners.
Still, requiring disabled people to request a plastic straw may not only be difficult for some who are verbally- or intellectually-challenged, but could make them vulnerable to a social backlash similar to what is often encountered when disabled people who “don’t look disabled” are harassed for parking in handicapped parking spots. This leads many to ask if plastic straw ban laws discriminate against or unfairly burden the disabled community.
Applying for social security disability benefits
If you need assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits, or appealing a denial of benefits, Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.